Quality of Judging
3rd Dec 1997
There doesn't appear to be many topics that can stir so much emotions at show time than perceived poor judging with many normally sensible people being worked up to a frenzy. Too often they do seem to have a case as the judge appears to the onlooker (as the onlooker obviously can't handle the exhibits) to have made a big mistake. I have often pondered why this is so, we all know and appreciate that judging is not the easiest of tasks, particularly at the highest level.
Too Many Rules?
Is the reason then that mistakes are happening because the selected judges are incapable of judging to such a standard or is it that they become overawed with the situation and just make the wrong decisions under stress. The other angle could be that they are under great pressure from the time element and perhaps we should be thinking of re vamping the judging system completely. The first letter below came to me from Mr Bill Bossom after my comments on the RHS revision of the Judges Handbook and the percentage pointing system. Mr Bossom firmly believes that we have far too many rules at present and the system needs to be made very much simpler and he offers some of the following ideas :
He says "currently we have 3 sets of rules to abide by, RHS, NVS and Garden News Top Tray rules as well as all the different National Societies issuing their own rules and regulations. We have to remember that by far the majority of exhibitors exhibit at local shows not at the National shows and he says we must listen to the local exhibitors. The pointing system should be 15 points per exhibit i.e., 5 Presentation, 5 Quality and 5 for Uniformity where applicable". Mr Bossom concludes his first letter by saying "PQU is all that is needed, by far the majority of exhibitors and judges I've worked with this year tend to agree. Horticulture is supposed to be a relaxing hobby, try and keep it that way".
His second letter was prompted after I mentioned the percentage pointing system for the "Any other vegetable class". which he doesn't appear to favour, I quote his letter below :
Classes = we only need 2 classes for carrots, pointed and non pointed.
Potatoes = All Potatoes at present need to be weighed, so as only 7 oz ones gets 3 points for size.
Onions = The RHS have 8 ounces or under (227grms) and over 8 ounces, now the NVS have come up with a 250 grams (approx. 9 ounce) onion. With 6 onions in an exhibit and ten entries in the class the judge would have to weigh 60 onions. With classes for large and small onions this could increase to 120 onions to be weighed; plus 100 shallots to be measured, RHS have 1" shallots now the NVS have 24mm shallots. Then there are the three sizes of tomatoes that all have to be measured, at an average show this could well exceed 100 tomatoes to be measured.
Marrows need to be measured, the size of dahlias need to be measured. On top of all this the number of stems of flowers in bowls and vases need to be checked, Then any other veg need to be sorted out. Because a lot of local exhibitors do not understand the rules and regulations, the NAS's need to be sorted out. After all this you can start your task of judging. At this point in time the show secretary reminds you that the public will be admitted in 15 minutes.
The pointing system should be 15 points per exhibit, i.e. 5 for presentation, 5 for Quality and 5 for Uniformity where applicable, this should apply to all exhibits.
The cost of being a judge
To keep up with the rules and regulations you need to be a member of all the different societies, this could cost you £100 per year in membership fees. Every time sizes of produce alters you need to purchase a new set of judging rings etc. Then there's the travelling expenses, all this needs to be taken into account when deciding on the judging fee.
After all this, I hope they provide lunch and a cup of tea at the show, well I've had my say, now it's up to you."
Bill Bossom is a member of the Essex Guild of Horticultural judges, Middlesex Guild of Horticultural judges, Kent federation of Horticultural judges, Associated lecturers and judges in Essex and around, Accredited Judge RNRS and NDS.